CyberNotes
Tutorial Thursday

 

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I periodically receive inquiries from friends asking for the easiest way to access files and folders on a FTP server. They normally have their own FTP server setup at home, and they want to ensure fast access to their files without having to mess with third-party applications. Is it possible to quickly map a FTP to a drive? You bet!

The solution I’m about to show you doesn’t exactly assign a drive letter to the FTP server, but it will essentially serve the same purpose as a drive. Through Windows Explorer you’ll have one-click access to your files, and they will even be accessible through the standard Open/Save dialog boxes in apps such as Microsoft Word.

Here’s how you can set it up:

  1. Open Windows Explorer and choose the “Map Network Drive” option.
    Vista location: Along the top toolbar
    XP location: Tools Menu
    Map FTP to Drive - Step 1
  2. Choose the option at the bottom that reads:
    Vista: “Connect to a Web site that you can use to store your documents and pictures”
    XP: “Sign up for online storage or connect to a network server”
    Map FTP to Drive - Step 2
  3. Click “Choose a custom network location”:
    Map FTP to Drive - Step 3
  4. Enter in the FTP address for the site:
    Map FTP to Drive - Step 4
  5. Enter the username for the FTP server (you will be prompted for the password when you connect):
    Map FTP to Drive - Step 5
  6. Enter a name:
    Map FTP to Drive - Step 6
  7. Finish up the wizard, and then you’ll be ready to connect! You’ll be prompted for the password the first time that you try and connect, but you can have the password saved after that if you wish.
    Map FTP to Drive - Step 7

That process will take less than 30-seconds to complete after you become familiar with doing it. There is a way to assign a drive letter to a FTP server, but it does take some addition work. I’ve found three sources that try to make it a little easier:

  1. Tutorial – This is a relatively quick process and would be my first choice out of the three mentioned here. It requires no third-party apps to make it work, and it truly lets you map a FTP server to a drive. It does require using the command line.
  2. NetDrive – This is a free program offered by Novell that has a GUI interface for setting up FTP servers as drives on your computer.
  3. FTP Drive – This is a small free program that also brings a GUI interface to the configuration, but the program always has to be running if you want the mapped drive to work.

While those solutions make it possible to assign a drive letter to the FTP, I don’t see an added advantage by doing so. The steps that I walked you through in this article will give nearly every program access to your FTP, and it is super easy to setup. I’m sure there is some reason that you would want a drive letter though…I just haven’t found them. :)

There Are 55 Comments

  1. There IS actually a tool that maps FTPs as a drive letter. It also maps WebDAV and iFolder. It’s called WebDrive ([webdrive.com] ). Unfortunately, it’s not free. Luckily, a while ago Novell released a program called NetDrive that was essentially a rebranded WebDrive. While they don’t distribute it anymore, it IS still floating around. Here’s one link:
    [freewaregenius.com]

    For Mac users, use Mac Fusion:
    [sccs.swarthmore.edu]

    • I did what the article suggested and mapped a folder. For some silly reason though I wanted a drive with a letter. I played with several of the programs listed and here is what I found.

      NetDrive works well. The only problem was that I wanted to name the drive “Server (S:)” and I was only able to name it “NetDrive @ Server (S:)” I could not for the life of me figure out how to get the “NetDrive @” to go away.

      Webdive worked well too and did not add the name extension in front of the drive name. But they changed the drive icon to their own cute thing that I did not want.

      What finally did work was one called DirectNetDrive. It did not add anything and is free for home use.

      I am guessing that if you knew a little about programming that you could alter NetDrive so that it did not add the extension fairly easily. I think it is free for home and office use.

      What got me started on this was to find a free DropBox alternative. I think this is the way to go!

  2. That first option isn’t going to work… NetBEUI hasn’t been around for a very long time.

  3. onlineapps wrote:
    There IS actually a tool that maps FTPs as a drive letter. It also maps WebDAV and iFolder. It’s called WebDrive ([webdrive.com] ). Unfortunately, it’s not free. Luckily, a while ago Novell released a program called NetDrive that was essentially a rebranded WebDrive. While they don’t distribute it anymore, it IS still floating around.

    I actually linked to that in the article, along with another free program. I mentioned both at the end in a list of three alternative methods.

    The How-To Geek wrote:
    That first option isn’t going to work… NetBEUI hasn’t been around for a very long time.

    You can actually get it on XP, and I meant to link to it in the article:
    [support.microsoft.com]

  4. I am not sure about this on Vista, but on XP I found mapping a drive to an FTP server to be a very bad idea, Every time I opened up a new explorer window, XP would open a connection to the FTP server and get its file listing; thus introducing a very long delay. Same long delay nearly every time a file Open/Save dialog was opened in any application. I did not try to resolve this, and just removed the mapping.

  5. Everytime you opened Explorer? That doesn’t sound right. It’s not doing that in Vista.

  6. 2 questions

    how do you do a copy to the ftp “drive” in DOS (batch file)?
    how do you disconnect?

    jpg

  7. Anonymous wrote:
    2 questions

    how do you do a copy to the ftp “drive” in DOS (batch file)?
    how do you disconnect?

    jpg

    I haven’t done it in a batch file before so I’m not quite sure, sorry.

  8. Is there a way to do this to connect to an SSH server?

  9. I assume you’re wanting to connect via SFTP? Unfortunately I haven’t seen any free solutions to do that type of stuff.

    • I had the same problem. I had the old, but very lightweight, NetDrive. Now I have a newer version (or a different NetDrive altoghether) that supports SFTP and it’s free. I got it from here: [netdrive.net]

    • Ah, but there is (& fully free)!

      [code.google.com]

      Works great!

    • Nice find Shawn! 5-years later and we’ve got a solution… I’ll be sure to take it for a spin and write an article if it works as smooth as it sounds.

    • 1. netdrive is too expensive ($30), ExpanDrive 3 costs only $20.
      2. WinSFTPFS is only for sftp
      3. windows map network drive does not make a x:\ for ftp
      4. ftpuse is freeware and only for ftp

  10. I use a tunnel to fool the Windows ftp into thinking my ssh server is a ftp server. This way I get the ftp connectivity, but encrypted. The only drawback is you need a third-party application running (I have it in the background).

    Download Bitvise Tunnelier (it’s free and available portable). Enable its FTP-to-SFTP bridge and connect to your ssh server. Then when Windows asks for your ftp server, type “ftp://localhost/”

    It works smoothly and best of all, all connections are encrypted.
    I use Bitvise Tunnelier to tunnel all sorts of connections like VNC and WebDAV. I can connect to any port with only the ssh port open to the public. I love it!

  11. Very clever idea to connect to an SSH server, I’m going to try this now :)

  12. To copy using ftp and batch command you may use -s switch
    ftp -s:command_file
    -s switch specifies a text file containing FTP commands; the commands will automatically run after FTP starts.

  13. When I’m trying to open file using vista mapper – I get a firefox window asking me a password. NetDrive is much better.

  14. I’m try to map ftp://cypernetnews.com as the examples. After I finish the error message is:” Windows cannot access this folder. Make sure you typed the file name correctly and that you have permission to access this folder.”

    Have you ever meet this error? Have anybody help me? Thank you very much!

  15. I map FTP folders to drive letters so I can edit files on them remotely using my IDE.

  16. There IS a reason to use 3rd party tools like FTPDrive. The standard windows ‘mont’ does not allow for random access, i.e. it would download the whole file before you can access the file. And it is not acceptable for big file where you need random access like movies.

  17. Happy days! why is there no option to just do this easily? A simple right click “Bookmark this FTP Server” would have sufficed;
    “windows 7 was some chumps idea” so it ended up as shit as its predecessor.

  18. There’s an easy way to do this; it’s with an app I found online called ExpanDrive. It’s not free, but it works. I’ve found it works better (ie. faster) on the Mac than on windows, but it could be my server I don’t know. [expandrive.com]

  19. Thanks I just visited this site ans notice alot of good material

    • I found 2 problems with NetDrive (on Vista):
      1. The connection is lost after the laptop comes out of standby, and NetDrive must be shutdown and restarted.
      2. Only UFT-8 seems to work.

  20. For those of you wanting to do this for SFTP you might want to try our Swish which is free and Open Source: [swish-sftp.org.]

  21. Of course, that should be [swish-sftp.org]

  22. There is actually a really good reason why you would need this, but sadly it’s for one program that seems to have some arcane rules. Revit (BIM Modeling Architecture/Engineering Suite) allows you to share a file using what they call a central file. However, EVERY single user has to have the SAME EXACT PATH to the central file. This can be quite problematic when your team is spread out across the world!

    Cheers for really helping me solve this age old mystery!

  23. Hello, with this method you can’t edit a file directly on the FTP server.
    The file you load in the texte editor is placed in windows temporary file. As a consequence, if you save it, you do on your local machine, not on the ftp server…
    I have not found a good solution yet.
    FTPdrive was perfect with XP, but it does not work properly with Windows7.
    Netdrive is way too slow…

  24. I dont know what password I should enter when I connect to the ftp server >.< How can you change the password?

    • Password: If the site support anonymous FTP, the tradition is to use your email address as the password – I’d call that a “courtesy”, i.e. me@mydomain.com

      However, most FTP sites really do need a userID and password, so the password you use is “your” password.

      A way to work on this is to do a command line FTP, and work until you get access.

      I’m going to do it with one of my domains:

      1) either ftp then open mydomain; or ftp mydomain

      NOTE: Regarding the person saying you MUST use ftp://ftp. – this may or may not be true depending upon the ftp server. However it IS a good suggestion to at least TRY it, as sometimes you can go ftp://mydomain.com… other times you must use ftp://ftp.myotherdomain.com… depending upon the domain.

      2) it will ask a user – user your userID, or for anonymous FTP (ONLY of course if supported – and rarely supported) use: anonymous

      3) It will ask you for your password (even if you put in a bogus userID, because it doesn’t want to make it easy to guess a userID)

      You should then be in. It should give you an “OK. ….” message.

      If this doesn’t work, you don’t have an ID, or the right password, or FTP isn’t supported, etc.

      IF you DO log on, and want to learn about command-line FTP, type ? to see a list of commands. FUNDAMENTALLY: (I’ll put commands in [...]) [ascii] for text transfers; [binary] for binary transfers; [ls] to list files; [dir] also works; [get] to get a file from ftp; [put] to upload a file.

      But back to mapping a drive – once you know you can ftp in, do a: quit

      Now, knowing your ID and password, go back and try it as a mapped drive.

      ______
      Ward Christensen, inventor of xmodem (and BBSs–W/Randy Suess, HW Guru)

    • Now I understand! Thanks :D

  25. Thanks a lot for that.

    Only thing missing is how to use it in a batch file..

  26. can i map a ftp address?

  27. This really doesn’t map it to a “Drive” just a shortcut and a wizard to do it, it is still just an ftp site as far as windows is concerned, it does not map to an actual drive letter. You should change the title.

    Thanks,
    James Campbell
    MCP,MCSA,MCSE,SEC +

  28. Can I mount an ftp drive but use a port other than 21? I can´t seem to find the way to do this…

  29. It was so much easier to map a network drive in Win XP. XP let me easily map an FTP site as a drive letter… I cannot figure out how to do that on Win7.

    I want to use SVN to an FTP site. But, SVN won’t let me setup a repository on my Win7 FTP designation. It wants a drive letter…. It’s annoying… Every time Microsoft updates Windows, they drop or forget something…

  30. Thanks! This worked great on Windows XP.

  31. how do you disconnect?
    i have a connection established for one username, but i need it to use another username…unfortunately, even though i delete the “mapping” it still connects with the wrong username…and i can’t change the password unless it prompts me at connection…right now it is not…
    how do i disconnect the connection?
    btw, i have rebooted the NAS i’m ftping into…no help…

    • there is actually a free program that will map your drive. ( if its already been suggested please accept my apology for not reading the full post. )

      its called netdrive

  32. I use the Internet Explorer for this.Like ftp://myserver.con
    Then the IE tell me what to do to get a FTP Folder. This FTP Folder behaves like an explorer folder.

    Did somebody know a build in command for this?

    cheers

    Armin

  33. This should be removed, this is how to add a network location not map a drive. As soon as he opens the map a drive wizard the next step is to click connect to a website which sends you to the add network location wizard. Rename this article so you arent wasting peoples time.

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